Tribe of the Week: Igbo People

November 16, 2017 By

We’ve got some new info up on our Igbo tribe page! Read all about it here.

The Igbo are very influenced by religion and a supreme god being named Chukwu (a compound of the words, Chi, or “spritiual being,” and Ukwu, meaning “great in size”). They believe everything in this world has come from him and is in his control and thus showing great respect towards Chukwu through art is important to the Igbo people. They craft art objects like staffs (see image below) to worship and communicate with Chukwu and other gods. Specifically, the staff below is carved out of the Ofo tree and symbolizes God and meant to evoke justice and righteousness during ceremonies. Ofo staffs are passed down through generations to the eldest son after the patriarch passes away. It is a great honor to possess an Ofo staff in the family.

Chukwu is also responsible for giving the Igbo yams during a bout of famine. They have been growing this staple for hundreds of years. The legend goes that a sky being called Eri, came down to Igbo and sustained them with food until his death, upon which their food vanished. Chukwu then commanded Eri’s son, Nri, to sacrifice his eldest son and daughter and bury them in separate graves. Nri complied to Chukwu’s request and 12 days later, yams grew from the burial site of his son, while coco yam grew from the grave site of his daughter. This is why yam is called “son of Nri” and coco yam “daughter of Nri.” They have a yearly yam festival to this day called, Onwa Asaa (see images above).

Check out our Igbo People Pinterest board here. And shop a variety of art pieces from this spiritual tribe here, including masks, staffs and doors.


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